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DWN Call Flores Decision a Resounding Victory for Human Rights As Judge Rules Against Family Detention

DWN Blog - July 27, 2015 - 16:11

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, 27 July 2015

Experts Call Flores Decision a Resounding Victory for Human Rights As Judge Rules Against Family Detention

Detention Watch Network Urges Obama Administration to Accept Decision

Statement from Mary Small, Policy Director of Detention Watch Network in response to Friday’s ruling that the Obama administration’s continued detention of refugee children and mothers is illegal:

“This long overdue decision is an encouraging victory for the rights of asylum-seeking women and children locked up in family detention centers. Friday’s ruling confirms what we have long known– that the Obama administration’s revival of family detention is a failed policy that is an appalling stain on the United States’ human rights record. We call on DHS to allow this decision to stand, release women and children immediately and close all family detention centers once and for all.

We also urge the administration to allow these children and their mothers to live with dignity while they apply for asylum. The use of unnecessary and dehumanizing GPS ankle monitors is unacceptable. ICE must direct resources instead to community support programs that do not further harm women and children.

It’s time for the Obama administration to concede to the growing demand to end family detention permanently and begin treating refugees with dignity and respect.”

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Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.

Detention Watch Network Encouraged to See Families Released, But Concerned with Dehumanizing Alternatives Proposed

DWN Blog - July 14, 2015 - 15:10

For Immediate Release: July 14, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh :

Detention Watch Network Encouraged to See Families Released,

But Concerned with Dehumanizing Alternatives Proposed

Statement from Silky Shah, Co-Director of the Detention Watch Network in response to yesterday’s announcement on family detention issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

“Under increasing pressure, the Obama administration is finally taking steps to limit the prolonged incarceration of mothers and children. The detention system is rife with human rights abuses, appalling medical care lapses, and glaring due process violations. By the government’s own measure, the vast majority of detained women and children should be treated as refugees and immediately released.

Instead, while ICE has finally acknowledged that they should not continue a blanket policy of detaining mothers and children who have a legitimate fear of returning to their countries of origin, ICE has simply replaced one blanket decision with another–this time to fit all mothers with unnecessary and dehumanizing ankle GPS monitoring devices.

In the limited number of cases where additional support is needed, ICE should focus instead on community support programs that do not further traumatize families. Rather than piling on multiple onerous conditions for release that will waste more taxpayer dollars.

The Obama administration’s family detention policy has been an embarrassing stain on America’s human rights record. Yesterday’s announcement signals a move away from mere rhetoric and toward actual release for some detained mothers and children, but even if implemented fully, fails to truly address the problem this administration created for itself last year.  It is time to close all family detention centers and end this painful chapter once and for all.”

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Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.

#EndDetention Week of Action & New Voices from Detention

DWN Blog - July 7, 2015 - 16:16

NEW Voices from Detention

To kickoff the week of action to end immigrant detention, Detention Watch Network is releasing a new video in our Voices from Detention series.
Voices from Detention brings forward the voices of those most impacted by the unjust immigration detention system via audio phone recordings from people locked up inside detention centers.

Meet Lissett and Alexis – Listen to their story

Lissett Pineda and her 11-year-old son, Alexis, fled Honduras after learning about the death of one of Alexis’ close friends, emblematic of the escalating violence throughout the region. Lissett feared for her son’s life and was willing to do anything to protect him. She came to the United States seeking asylum and instead was met with bars at the Karnes Family Detention Center in Karnes City, Texas. It was there that Lissett and Alexis spent nine months locked up.

Lissett has been on the forefront of fighting for the liberation of all families in detention. She was a brave participant in the Karnes hunger strike and was placed in solitary confinement as a form of retaliation. Fortunately, since recording this Voices from Detention, Lissett and her son have been released. Thousands of mothers and children still remain in family detention centers just like Lissett and Alexis, as well as, the larger population of immigrant men who are unjustly and inhumanely detained every day in a system of over 200 detention centers across the country.

Support Lissett and Alexis by sharing their story on social media and by joining the growing demand to end immigrant detention!

Join an Action Near You & Tweet to #EndDetention

July 7 – Austin, TX –  7:00 pm – “Chant Down the Walls” Protest & Concert

Hosted by Grassroots Leadership, community members, social justice organizations, and faith organizations will have a protest/concert to show solidarity with people inside of the Travis County Jail.

For more information

July 8 – Chicago, IL – 11:30 am – Rally at ICE to End All Detention

Formerly detained members of Organized Communities Against Deportation (OCAD) will rally at 101 W. Congress in Chicago, IL.

For more information

July 9 – Adelanto, CA –  6:30 pm – Adelanto Detention Center Vigil

Join Justice for Immigrants Coalition at the Adelanto Detention Center to stand against the inhumane treatment in the facility and continue opposition to the 600 bed expansion that was implemented on July 1st.

For more information

July 9 – Atlanta, GA – Evening Bus Departs for New Orleans Protests

Members of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) will drive through the night to rally with the Congreso de Jornaleros at the DAPA hearing in New Orleans.

For more information

July 10 – New Orleans, LA – 8:30 am Rally & March from DAPA Hearing to ICE

Congreso de Jornaleros will rally at the hearing to lift the injunction on the relief program and march to the local ICE office to protest continued raids.

For more information

July 11 – Washington, DC – 10:00 am – Caravan to Shut Down Berks Concert

DC residents will meet at 1525 Newton St NW, Washington, DC 20010 to drive to the Berks detention center to join a rally and concert there.

For more information

July 11 – Leesport, PA – 2:00 pm – Shut Down Berks Concert

Juntos and supporters will rally at the family detention center located at 1040 Berks Rd, Leesport, PA for a concert and rally featuring the hip-hop artist Olmeca and others calling for the closing of the center.

For more information

July 11 – Tacoma, WA – 12:00 pm – Defend Your Rights Workshop 

Information and stories of those who fought the detention system and won, and those that continue fighting outside of the NW Detention Center.

For more information

* Hosting an Action or Vigil? Add your event online at: *

New DWN and CCR Report: Financial Market for Immigrant Detention Exposed

DWN Blog - June 11, 2015 - 14:19

New Report: Financial Market for Immigrant Detention Exposed

Report Explores Widespread Use of Local Guaranteed Minimum Contracts in Detaining Immigrants in LA, Phoenix, Houston, Miami, San Antonio, San Diego, and More

Washington, DC – A new report, “Banking on Detention: Local Lockup Quotas and the Immigrant Dragnet” released today by Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights explores and exposes the depth of local lockup quotas in immigrant detention across 15 facilities in half of ICE’s field offices under the Obama Administration.

Major areas with local quotas include: Los Angeles, San Antonio, Phoenix, Miami, Seattle, Houston, San Diego, Buffalo, New Orleans, and Newark.

“For the federal government to contractually guarantee a certain number of immigrant detainees per day violates best practices in law enforcement and is an affront to our entire conception of justice in America,” said Congressman Ted Deutch. “Detention Watch Network’s latest research details how the misguided federal detention bed mandate is spawning a rise of new bed quotas at the local level, which have profound implications for our communities. Having a daily detainee quota increases the likelihood that an undocumented mother waits for months for her day in court from a detention facility when a supervised release could keep her family together at a fraction of the cost to the taxpayer.”

“The detention of immigrants has become big business and a source of profit, yet comes with a significant moral and financial cost for everyone involved,” said Silky Shah, Co-Director of Detention Watch Network. “Local quotas with private contractors and the infrastructure of detention itself have driven this market: all at a huge expense to families detained arbitrarily and to taxpayers footing the bill.”

“Local lockup quotas depend on a lack of government transparency about how these contractual arrangements deprive individuals of liberty,” said Ghita Schwarz, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “These contracts provide incentives not only to detain large numbers of immigrants, but also to detain them in specific facilities, no matter how far they are from an individual’s community. When immigrants are detained far from home in order to serve a local lockup quota, they lose access to families, attorneys, and resources that could help them fight their detention or deportation.”

Top lines from the report:

  • By requiring ICE to fill a certain number of detention beds on a daily basis at specific facilities, the U.S. government is allowing private interests a hand in setting policy on immigration enforcement and detention, while at the same time padding their bottom line.
  • Guaranteed minimums predate the national quota’s inception and have existed at least since 2003. Guaranteed minimums exist in 12 ICE field offices, half of ICE field offices across the country, and account for a quota of more than 8,500 individuals combined.
  • The guaranteed minimum at the ICE field office in San Antonio is the highest of any in the country at more than 2,000 individuals.
  • GEO Group has been the most successful company in getting guaranteed minimums incorporated into their contracts.  As such, GEO Group facilities may be prioritized in order to fill local quotas.

See the full report here:

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Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons.

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

ICE’s New Family Detention Policies Nothing More Than a Delay Tactic, No Meaningful Changes

DWN Blog - May 14, 2015 - 13:43

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2015

Contact: Molly Haigh,

DWN: ICE’s New Family Detention Policies Nothing More Than a Delay Tactic, No Meaningful Changes

Statement from Detention Watch Network Co-Director Silky Shah on ICE’s new policies on family detention:

“After successful litigation and months of actions against family detention, including a rally of 600 at Dilley earlier this month, ICE is clearly feeling pressure to address concerns around family detention. Unfortunately their new policy is nothing more than a delay tactic. ICE’s new ‘standards’ for detaining families still don’t meet the basic standards of human decency or rights. Putting women and children fleeing violence behind bars is appalling— and ICE’s latest moves change nothing on that front. It’s time for the Obama Administration and ICE to end their failed family detention program, and close these facilities once and for all. It’s time to remove this stain from America’s human rights record.”

Clinton Underestimates America’s Detention Problem

DWN Blog - May 7, 2015 - 15:48
Statement from Silky Shah, Co-Director of Detention Watch Network on Clinton’s roundtable addressing American’s immigration detention system problems: 

“We are encouraged to hear Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton join the growing consensus that our profit-driven immigration detention system is inhumane and morally corrupt. However, in calling for a more ‘humane’ system, Clinton misses the heart of the problem. Detaining people for a civil immigration violation for months and years at a time simply cannot be made humane. Our immigration system should at all costs work to avoid putting people behind bars for searching for a better life. That means eliminating the immigrant detention quota Clinton referred to in her roundtable, which requires 34,000 people be locked up at any given time. It also means ending detention of families, and it means completely dismantling a system that incentivizes human suffering: no more detention, period.”

Action Alert: End Family Detention Week of Action

DWN Blog - April 30, 2015 - 15:04
Sign the Petition Sign the petition calling on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah Saldaña to end family detention. Make your Voice Heard on Mother’s Day Sign up for DWN’s Mother’s Day Thunderclap  A Thunderclap is a coordinated shared post on Facebook and Twitter to amplify a call to action. By signing up, Thunderclap will post to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts on your behalf for a *one-time* only post at the same time as others. Participate in an Action Near You on May 2nd

TX: Close Dilley Protest

Protest the shameful detention of mothers and children in the “South Texas Residential Center.”

CO: Aurora Protest

Solidarity protest at the for-profit Aurora Immigrant Detention Center.

DC: Prayer Vigil 

Join for an interfaith prayer vigil for the hundreds of mothers and children from Central America held in detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania.

PA: Berks Protest Rally in support of the parents and children currently imprisoned at the Berks County Immigration Detention Center.
  • Location: 1040 Berks Road, Leesport, PA 19533
Host a Screening No Sanctuary: Big Business and Family Detention isa new documentary chronicling the return of immigrant family detention in the United States. To screen the film in your community:

New Policy Brief: Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration

DWN Blog - April 20, 2015 - 13:16

DWN’s new policy brief, Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration, examines the inappropriate use of deterrence as a rationale for immigration detention. In light of the recent lawsuit RILR v. Johnson, Ending the Use of Immigration Detention to Deter Migration, provides a broader context of the use of deterrence in immigration detention as a misguided practice of an overall system that seeks to punish and criminalize immigrants.

The lawsuit filed by the ACLU, UT Law School and pro bono Counsel challenges the deterrence-driven no release policy for detained mothers and children with positive credible fear interview determinations (that is, families who the government has found are likely to get asylum once they go through full proceedings). Deterrence as a specific consideration during supposedly individualized custody determinations marks a new level of aggressive and inappropriate use, and it is currently affecting many asylum-seekers, not just families.  

The root of this idea, that you can punish people to stop them (and others) from seeking safety, disregards constitutional protections and the United States’  international obligations. Deterrence has no place in our immigration detention system and is certainly no justification for depriving people of their liberty.